The former vice president of a pharmaceutical company was sentenced to 33 months for pushing unnecessary opioid prescriptions

The former vice president of Insys Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company, was sentenced to almost three years for pushing doctors to prescribe unnecessary opioids on patients, according to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office.

Michael Gurry, 56, of Scottsdale, Arizona, was sentenced to 33 months plus three years of supervised release for his role in a conspiracy to bribe medical practitioners to prescribe Subsys, a powerful fentanyl-based medication, the release said.

Gurry is one of five employees of Insys Therapeutics convicted of racketeering conspiracy in the scheme.

“The drug was expensive, and while bribes paid to prescribers succeeded in generating new prescriptions, insurers were reluctant to approve payment when Subsys was prescribed for patients without cancer,” the release said.

The former vice president of the company was responsible for creating and overseeing the Insys Reimbursement Center which was dedicated to obtaining prior authorization of payment for Subsys prescriptions, according to the release. He told employees of that center to misrepresent themselves as employees of the prescribing office in order to obtain prior authorization of payment from insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers.

Gurry authorized employees to use a script, referred to in the release as “the spiel” in order to trick insurers into thinking the patient had been prescribed Subsys for the treatment of breakthrough cancer pain, the release said. Part of that script included saying the patient had been diagnosed with dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, as well as saying that the patients had histories of cancer in order to obtain authorization.

Gurry has also been ordered to pay approximately $3.6 million in forfeiture, the release said.

CNN has reached out to attorneys listed for Gurry for comment.